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Democratic Defectors On Food Stamps Have Taken $6 Million From Farm Industry

By Alan Pyke on July 16, 2013 at 3:34 pm

"Democratic Defectors On Food Stamps Have Taken $6 Million From Farm Industry"

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The eight Democrats who joined House Republicans to protect crop insurance funding at the expense of food stamps have accepted a combined $6.3 million in career campaign contributions from the agriculture industry.

During the farm bill debate in late June, Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) proposed an amendment that would have replaced $20.5 billion in food stamp cuts with reductions in crop insurance funding that primarily subsidizes industrial farms. The House rejected it, 234-188, with eight Democrats crossing the aisle to oppose the proposal. The Center for Responsive Politics noted Tuesday that those eight have all received substantial campaign funds from the agribusiness sector. According to CRP records from OpenSecrets.org, the eight have received a combined $6,334,116 from the industry over their congressional careers, with nearly all of it going to six veteran congressmen.

Reps. Owens, Barrow, and Bishop were elected in 2008, 2004, and 1992 respectively. Reps. Maloney and Bustos are in their first terms, which may help explain their relatively low hauls from the industry. They serve on the House Agriculture Committee, making them natural targets for farm industry contributions during their 2014 reelection efforts. Rep. Peterson is the ranking member of the committee, and Reps. McIntyre and Walz also serve on it.

Conversely, CRP notes, the five Republicans who joined Democrats in supporting the McGovern effort have received very little support from the industry.

The farm bill’s future is uncertain, as the House leadership’s failure to steer the original bill to passage led to a bill that excludes funding for food stamps entirely. That split farm bill passed, but House leaders have thus far stymied the Democrat-led Senate’s efforts to merge the House measure on agriculture programs with its own, comprehensive farm bill. Democrats pledge a bill without food stamps cannot pass the Senate, and the White House had promised to veto the House’s bill over its cuts to the program. The House’s split bill also fails to fund the food charities conservatives expect to pick up the government’s slack when it comes to feeding the poor, which the Senate’s top agricultural policymaker called “ironic” on Monday.

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